Weight training is a great way to add muscular strength and definition, but if you don’t have access to extra resistance – like dumbbells or barbells – it is difficult to make progress over time.
Beyond traditional weights, another convenient tool are resistance bands made of rubber or elastic. Some come with two handles, others are in a closed loop and some are flat and long (therapy bands), but all are available in multiple resistance levels, from light to very hard. Not only are these inexpensive, but they also are portable so you can use them when you’re quarantining, traveling, at the park or just can’t go to the gym.
There are lots of options for resistance band exercises, and you can ask a trainer or search online to develop your own routines. Don’t totally ditch the iron, as traditional weight training also provides plenty of benefits. But add a day or two using resistance bands, or periodically perform a few exercises to complement your routine. Here are some of the best resistance band exercises to incorporate into your regimen.
Resistance Band Exercises
- Squat – Stand on the band with feet about hip-distance apart and handles at your shoulders. Sit down and push hips back, with weight in heels, and then slowly stand up.
- Standing outer thigh – Stand on the band with feet together and handles at the thighs (easiest), waist (harder) or shoulders (most difficult). Slowly abduct right leg to the side and lower; then repeat on the left.
- Glute bridge – Lying on your back with knees bent and feet flat on floor, hip-width apart, place a loop band above your knees (or tie a longer band). Squeeze the glutes as you lift the hips up and slowly lower to just above the floor; repeat.
- Lateral walk – Step into a loop band and place it above the knees (or step on a band and hold handles at shoulders). Bend knees slightly in a semi-squat and step to the right, keeping tension in the band as you pull the left leg in. Take 6-8 steps right; then repeat to the left.
- Clamshell – Lying on one side, place a loop band above bent knees while stacking the hips and knees. Keeping ankles together, open the top knee and pause; then slowly close, controlling tension in the band. Repeat 10-15 reps and then try the other side.
- Lat pulldown – Standing with feet hip-width apart, choke up on band with hands above handles and reach arms wide overhead. Pull straight right arm down and slightly back through the lats, slowly return and repeat on the left. To make this harder, take up slack by wrapping band around wrists.
- Resisted push-up – In push-up position on your knees or toes, place band behind your upper back and hold down handles. Perform push-ups with band adding resistance as you come up.
- Biceps curl – Standing on band with feet hip-distance apart and hands in handles with palms up, perform a biceps curl to bring hands toward shoulders, keeping elbows at your sides.
- Overhead press – Standing with right foot forward anchoring band and hands in handles, press one arm or both up and overhead; return down and repeat.
- Kickback – Standing with your right foot forward anchoring band and hands in handles, hinge forward from hips and bend elbows into your torso. Straighten arms to push back behind you, with both arms together or alternating.
- Russian twist – Seated on floor with knees slightly bent, anchor band under feet securely. Holding handles together, lean back and twist handles to right hip, then left.